Surprises at Preston Circus

2014-02-08-001We decided to start work on renovating the planters at Preston Circus on the day when yet another gale was forecast. Last Saturday, winds reached 40mph in Brighton. And there we were, trying to dig in soil enhancer to top up the level of the planters and provide nutrients for the next season.

Buffeted by the wind, and with frozen fingers, we just about managed to get our eight sacks of soil into the two planters near the Duke of York’s cinema before we were surprised by icy hail, turning hands blue and noses red. We retreated into Moe’s Café for coffee – and tried very hard not to smear the new interior with soil and mud.2014-02-08-004

As we drank our coffee, the sun came out, then the sky darkened, then icy rain and fierce wind, and then sun again. The sequence just repeated itself throughout the afternoon. During a sunny period, I went over to inspect the other two planters. The ‘prairie’ planter was not looking particularly happy. The central grass looks dead (there are green shoots), all but one of the lime green carex everillo seems to have died (probably because they like shade), and the euphorbia have completely disappeared, presumed dead. The heuchera are standing their own and the verbena bonariensis is still there. The rudbeckia has died – were they annuals anyway? We’ll need to rethink our planting here.

2014-02-08-005But the big surprise is the ‘seaside’ planter. This should definitely not be happy in the current wet conditions, but it’s bushy and lush. It just sulked during the summer when it had the heat the plants were supposed to like and a specially mixed free-draining soil with sand and grit. We added some garden compost in September in desperation to keep it from drying out, and since we’ve just had lots and lots of rain and wind. The grasses, the santolina and the trailing rosemary love it! We’ve still got marigolds too from last summer.

2014-02-08-008And what’s that? The succulent South African native lampranthus delighting in the wettest English winter on record? It just goes to show … gardening and the English weather: you have to enjoy unpredictability!

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